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On November 4, the Crown Attorney's Office finally faced reality and dropped charges of mischief and forcible entry against nine members and supporters of OCAP.  These preposterous charges were laid by the cops on July 21, after an OCAP delegation went into the Liberal offices, hung a banner out of the window and addressed a crowd that had gathered outside to resist the cut to the Special Diet and demand the raising of welfare and disability rates. There are now no ongoing conditions or criminal records for the nine to deal with, although the Crown sought to save face by insisting on each person making a small charitable donation under their system of 'diversion'.

All nine people were first told they would be facing trespass charges but this was changed to mischief (a criminal charge) and, later that evening, forcible entry charges were added.  Each of those accused had to line up a surety to put up money and vouch for them, were subjected to strip searches and were locked up over a period spanning two days before a judge ordered their release.  Bail conditions placed limits on the activity of those charged and their right to associate with each other was limited. The Crown sought much more serious restrictions that were beaten back by our lawyer, Mike Leitold, to whom we all owe a huge round of thanks for
his skillful and dedicated efforts on our behalf from the day we were
charged through to the end.

Shamefully, two of the delegation to the Liberal offices, Anne and Lenny, are still facing trespass charges and it will be nothing short of disgusting if these are not dropped without delay.  Anne, is a member of OCAP who drives a wheelchair and uses a communication board via an assistant to express herself fully. Because the cops are ableist and lack respect for disabled people or any understanding of their issues, Anne and her assistant were dealt with separately from the rest of the delegation to the Liberal offices.  They were given summonses to appear on trespass charges and, at this point, are still facing a trial in January. If there a trace of shame or decency in the system (or even a desire to pretend there is), their charges will join the others in the garbage can.

The attempt to pile on charges and conditions after the arrest of the other nine people, were so blatant that the chances of successful prosecution were slim.  However, this does not alter the seriousness of the issues involved. In bail court, the day after the action, the Crown accused us of 'inciting' the crowd outside and referred menacingly to our call out for the demonstration and its references to continuing resistance to the austerity agenda of the G20.  In the mind of the prosecutor, even to express opposition to the G20 and its plans is evidence of criminal intent.

There is a reason why an assistant Crown thinks this way.  We saw it in the charges we faced and it is on full display in the conspiracy charges and political vendetta the State is orchestrating against the G20 defendants.

Governments, increasingly, are destroying those programs that provided for peoples' needs and, as they do this, and opposition starts to emerge, they try and silence that opposition with cops,courts and prison cells.

The July 21 action at the Offices of the Liberal Party was part of OCAP's fight to challenge the McGuinty Government's elimination of the Special Diet and their decision to consign those living on sub poverty welfare payments to even greater poverty.  On that day, no one engaged in any 'forcible entry' or terrified office staff, as the Crown implied, but that's not really the point because our real 'crime' was to resist poverty.  When the G20 leaders or the McGuinty Liberals get together to discuss how to impose their austerity measures on people, they are not just within the Law but are actually protected by lines of cops.  When poor people organize to challenge their plans and build social resistance to it, however, they are breaching the 'peace' and challenging 'the Rule of Law'.

The real purpose of the charges we have just defeated was to try to intimidate and stifle resistance to poverty and austerity.  Not for the first time, an attempt of this sort has failed.  Our fight for living income and dignity will continue and grow and they don’t have enough cops and prosecutors to silence us.

Ontario Coalition Against Poverty / 416-925-6939

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